U.S. Lawmakers See Gruesome Reality of China’s One-Child Policy
(Editor's note: Updated to clarify cause of death claim in paragraph 19, the case of Shenyue Zhang)
(CNSNews.com) – A congressional hearing Thursday on China’s “one-child” policy will include documented cases of coercion and abuses by Chinese population control officials, accompanied by graphic images of abused victims and damaged or demolished homes of policy “violators.”
The information was compiled by a Chinese national and will be submitted by women’s rights advocate Reggie Littlejohn, as part of her testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.
Others testifying before the hearing, led by subcommittee chairman Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.Y.), include Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, a group opposing the one-child policy, as well as two Chinese victims of forced abortions.
The hearing marks the 31st anniversary of the launch of China’s controversial population limitation policy, which the communist government says has prevented more than 400 million births since being introduced.
Last month, Vice President Joe Biden made headlines after telling a Chinese audience, “Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second-guessing – of one child per family.” He made no reference to the policy’s coercive elements, noting only that it was “not sustainable” economically.
Following Republican criticism, Biden’s office said, “The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization. The vice president believes such practices are repugnant.”
The report Littlejohn will present on Thursday is a compilation of 13 incidents between 2004 and 2009, some drawn from published accounts in China and some based on interviews with the individuals involved.
The stories paint a picture of a range of abuses by family planning officials across China as they enforce the central government’s policy.
Victims report on police refusing to follow up complaints of assaults – including beatings with “rubber sticks” – and detentions by family planning officials, usually for being late for pregnancy checks that in some areas are compulsory for women of childbearing age every two months.
“It’s legal for the family planning officials to do this. It’s not our responsibility to deal with it!” one man quoted a police officer in Shandong province as telling him after he reported an Aug. 2009 assault on himself and his wife.
When the man tried to pursue legal action, the head of the town’s family planning office allegedly said he was wasting his time as no-one would care – before adding that if the case did succeed, he would “take revenge” on the complainant’s relatives.
In a Sept. 2009 incident in Henan province, a woman ran away from a hospital where family planning officials were carrying out pregnancy checks. She was caught on a crowded street and taken back to the hospital for a forced sterilization.
In Jiangxi province, family planning officials reportedly demolished a villager’s home in May 2009 because one of his sons had violated regulations by not providing officials with a certificate showing that his wife had an intrauterine device (IUD) checkup. Police took no action in response to complaints by the man whose home was destroyed, and lawyers advised him it would be prohibitively expensive to sue those responsible.
In Hunan province in March 2008, family planning officials arrived at a house to collect a “social compensation fee” – a euphemism for the punitive fines levied on policy violators – and scuffled with the inhabitants. The officials hit the father of the out-of-plan child, 32-year-old Xin Liu, over the head with a bottle, assaulted his brother-in-law and kicked his septuagenarian mother in the abdomen.
After hospitalization, “Xin Liu suffers from permanent disability,” said the report, with includes grisly photos showing the victim’s bloodied face after the assault.
In a county in Fujian province, according to another submission, any pregnant woman found not to be in possession of a certificate permitting her to give birth is taken to hospital for an abortion. Family members are then made to pay large fines, on pain of detention in overcrowded cells.
A woman in Fujian province was forced to undergo an abortion of her eight and a half month-old twins in December 2007, held down by ten officials and injected with ethacridine lactate, an abortion agent.
“The twin babies struggled for a long time in their mother’s uterus and died in the end,” according to a journalist who interviewed the victim. “Until half past nine in the evening of December 14, she was still waiting to induce the dead babies.”
Shenyue Zhang, a 50 year-old farmer, was detained by family planning officials in Jiangsu province in Oct. 2006 over his daughter-in-law’s failure to have a pregnancy check on time. He died after begin assaulted in the local family planning office. The official version was that he hanged himself.
The report also cites notices on official Web sites, including one from Ganzhe district, Fujian province in May 2007, reporting that the district’s quota of forced abortions – 52 – had been met one month ahead of schedule.
In each of the documented incidents those accused of the violations – mostly family planning officials – are identified by name.
“We have chosen to release the names of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity, so that they can be held accountable before the world,” Littlejohn told CNSNews.com on Wednesday. “The violence must stop.”
The dossier concludes with a personal statement by the person who compiled the information, a 33 year-old Chinese man who requested anonymity.
“I do not do this for personal gain,” he said. “All I want to do is to urge the power of justice to stop the massacre of the most innocent life in the world.”
“My actions have also been motivated by a deep personal loss,” the man continued. “Because of my lack of caution, my wife became pregnant for a second time. My second child was forcibly aborted because of the Population and Family Planning Policy.
“I truly underestimated the cruelty of this policy. But, as the father of the child, I did not fulfill my responsibility,” the man said. “I was unable to protect him.”